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Effects of selective pressure block of Y-type optic nerve fibers on the receptive-field properties of neurons in the striate cortex of the cat

  • W. Burke (a1) (a2), B. Dreher (a1), A. Michalski (a1), B. G. Cleland (a2) and M. H. Rowe (a1)...

Abstract

In an aseptic operation under surgical anesthesia, one optic nerve of a cat was exposed and subjected to pressure by means of a special cuff. The conduction of impulses through the pressurized region was monitored by means of electrodes which remained in the animal after the operation. The pressure was adjusted to selectively eliminate conduction in the largest fibers (Y-type) but not in the medium-size fibers (X-type). The conduction block is probably due to a demyelination and remains complete for about 3 weeks. Within 2 weeks after the pressure-block operation, recordings were made from single neurons in the striate cortex (area 17, area VI) of the cat anesthetized with N2O/O2 mixture supplemented by continuous intravenous infusion of barbiturate. Neurons were activated visually via the normal eye and via the eye with the pressure-blocked optic nerve (“Y-blocked eye”). Several properties of the receptive fields of single neurons in area 17 such as S (simple) or C (complex) type of receptive-field organization, size of discharge fields, orientation tuning, direction-selectivity indices, and end-zone inhibition appear to be unaffected by removal of the Y-type input. On the other hand, the peak discharge rates to stimuli presented via the Y-blocked eye were significantly lower than those to stimuli presented via the normal eye. As a result, the eye-dominance histogram was shifted markedly towards the normal eye implying that there is a significant excitatory Y-type input to area 17. In a substantial proportion of area 17 neurons, this input converges onto the cells which receive also non-Y-type inputs. In one respect, velocity sensitivity, removal of the Y input had a weak but significant effect. In particular, C (but not S) cells when activated via the normal eye responded optimally at slightly higher stimulus velocities than when activated via the Y-blocked eye. These results suggest that the Y input makes a distinct contribution to velocity sensitivity in area 17 but only in C-type neurons. Overall, our results lead us to the conclusion that the Y-type input to the striate cortex of the cat makes a significant contribution to the strength of the excitatory response of many neurons in this area. However, the contributions of Y-type input to the mechanism(s) underlying many of the receptive-field properties of neurons in this area are not distinguishable from those of the non-Y-type visual inputs.

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Keywords

Effects of selective pressure block of Y-type optic nerve fibers on the receptive-field properties of neurons in the striate cortex of the cat

  • W. Burke (a1) (a2), B. Dreher (a1), A. Michalski (a1), B. G. Cleland (a2) and M. H. Rowe (a1)...

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